Study Habits

Written by Zhenxu Sun: image

Exam FM was the first exam I passed, and I am planning to take Exam P this December.

One thing I love about the program at Wisconsin Madison (where I currently attend school), is that the courses offered closely relate with materials for the actuarial exams. Taking the actuarial science course last semester definitely helped me prepare for Exam FM.

Coming from Beijing China, I was confident with my mathematics skills and had no problem with calculus. I thought that putting some effort would be just enough for Exam FM – but I overestimated myself and was wrong. I got a “C” for the first midterm and could not believe it. I was extremely upset and went to talk to my professor right away. Together, we reviewed the mistakes I had made and discovered that many of them were due to carelessness. My professor had always been nice to me and encouraged everyone to do well academically and to succeed in life. Believing in myself, I started to work harder.

In my opinion, studying with a partner or two can be very important. I am the type of person that likes to study alone and I enjoy doing homework for class by myself. However, when it come time to reviewing for exams, I prefered to study with only a partner or two. We simply tried to do a sample exam or some problems by ourselves first, then reviewed answers and worked together to explain the result. When studying alone, there is a higher chance that I may miss an important part of the material. With two or three friends studying together, we would cover almost all of the materials to better prepare us all better for the exam. I do not suggest studying with more than two friends however, because a lot of things may happen to draw attention away easily which is not the reason to study with a partner.

Overall, I have shown improvements on both the second midterm and final, which has finally made me comfortable enough to study for Exam FM. I started to form my own study habits because the materials I was learning from the class were different than other classes, so I review the materials as often as possible. If you look at a formula every day for two weeks, you will find it hard to forget it. Practicing and solving sample problems is also important. When preparing for the first midterm, I tried my best to memorize all the formulas that I assumed would be used for the test. It turned out that I did not know how to put them in use even though I had them memorized. My biggest take away was that practicing is essential. The more variety of problems you solve, the less likely it is that you will get struck down on the exam with a problem that you have not seen before. The more times you solve the same kind of problem, the more time you save with similar questions. I believe that many know that practice helps with success – and now I believe it as well. However, laziness is everyone’s enemy. In order to pass the exam, you have to defeat laziness. I believe that I am an average student with average intelligence, and that hard work is the only way to make a difference.

Finally, I would like to recommend Adapt from Coaching Actuaries. The first time I heard about this great resource was about two months before taking Exam FM. Our professor had always encouraged us to use the ASM Study Manual from our library, but I only used it once or twice. I decided to purchase Adapt because I felt that solving more problems helps prepare someone better for an exam. After only the first week of using Adapt, I fell in love with it. It is so convenient that I can just start a sample exam whenever I want. More importantly, it allows me to customize quizzes on topics that I am not familiar with. I only made to a score of 6 out of 10, but was confident before the exam because I had reviewed all of the material.

There is still a long way ahead, but I am happy that I had a successful start. Good luck to you all!